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Bear Trading Continues As Equities Down By N83bn

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The Nigerian equities market yesterday dipped by N83 bill 0.38 per cent as bears maintained grip extending previous bearish outing into the first trading session of the week amidst sell-off pressures.

The market negative performance was driven by price depreciation in large and medium capitalised stocks which are; Lafarge Africa, Vitafoam Nigeria, Unilever Nigeria, Dangote Sugar Refinery and United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Analysts at United Capital Plc said: “this week, we expect the equities market to remain sideways, with a bearish bias, as we do not expect any major catalyst to change the direction of the market. That said, we think sustained selloffs in the equities market could present buy opportunities for investors.”

As measured by market breadth, market sentiment was negative as 24 stocks lost relative to 10 gainers. Royal Exchange recorded the highest price gain of 9.43 per cent to close at 58 kobo, per share. UACN Property Development Company (UPDC), Consolidated Hallmark Insurance and Meyer Plc followed with a gain of 9.09 per cent each to close at N1.08, 48 kobo and 24 kobo respectively, while Champion Breweries up by 7.92 per cent to close at N2.59, per share.

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On the other hand, Lafarge Africa led the losers’ chart by 9.94 per cent to close at N22.20, per share. Linkage Assurance followed with a decline of 8.93 per cent to close at 51 kobo, while Associated Bus Company lost 8.82 per cent to close at 31 kobo, per share.

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel clarifies why The Compass Newspaper was established, lists achievements as Ogun governor

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Former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has clarified the motivations behind the establishment of The Compass newspaper, denying any intentions of using the platform to oppose Senator Bola Tinubu.

In an interview the former governor granted a national newspaper, Daniel addressed these misconceptions and highlighted the extensive developmental work undertaken during his tenure, much of which he felt was underreported.

Reflecting on the media landscape during his governance, he stated, “I took over from a newspaper mogul, Chief Olusegun Osoba, and I was not expected to get good press. The sympathy was really not with me; it was with my predecessor. People thought I would crash within a few weeks.”

Facing persistent negative press, Daniel felt compelled to create a media outlet to accurately document and publicize his administration’s achievements.

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He emphasized that the establishment of The Compass was a strategic move to counteract biased media coverage rather than a tool for political vendetta.

“We needed to have a platform to also record what we were doing. We did a lot of work that people still do not know,” he explained.

Daniel lamented the lack of social media at the time, which would have allowed for more direct communication with the public without reliance on traditional media channels.

“Unfortunately, we did not have the level of social media that we have today. If that existed, nobody would need the traditional media.

“But you know, you people at that time, once you blocked us, you blocked us here, you blocked us there, I was finished (laughs). If we were working 24-7, nobody would see this. They would say you are not working because you people have blocked everybody. So that was what happened.

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“I’m not a newspaper person. But, at that stage, we needed to have a platform to also record what we were doing. We did a lot of work that people still do not know.

“For instance, we are thanking our current governor for now working on the (cargo) airport. But this was part of our master plan, which we decided, we did everything we needed to do, we got all the approvals before we left. But you people (press) will not report it.”

“We secured three free trade zones in Ogun State. The Olokola Free Trade Zone, which is where Dangote Refinery was supposed to be but because you people did what you had to do, we lost that one to Lagos. But I said to people, well, Lagos is still the same. If it’s lost to Lagos, it’s fine.

“In any case, where we wanted to put it is inside Ijebuland. All these places where they are in Lekki is still part of Ijebuland, under Lagos. So we’ve not lost anything.

He also said the Kajola Transportation Free Trade Zone, and the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, were all initiatives under his administration. These zones were designed to boost industrialization and economic growth in the region.

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Daniel also pointed out the numerous educational institutions established during his tenure, including the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic in Ijebu-Igbo, the Gateway Polytechnic in Sapade, the Tai Solarin University of Education, and several others. He stressed the transformative impact these institutions had on the state’s educational landscape.

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“You’ll be shocked if I tell you that in the course of our administration, we established probably about seven tertiary institutions and campuses. I can count for you. We established Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, Ijebu-Igbo. We established the Gateway Polytechnic in Sapade. We established another one in Igbesa and another one in Itori. We established the Tai Solarin University of Education. We established the School of Nursing in Ilaro. We took the old Tai Solarin College of Education to Omu. It’s now known as Sikiru Adetona College of Education in Omu. We established Gateway Industrial & Petrochemical Institute (GIPI) in Oni. What didn’t we do? But you people didn’t report it.”

In terms of industrialization, Daniel noted the development of the Sagamu Interchange area into a major industrial hub.

“That axis now is probably the biggest industrial zone in the country. Companies like Nestle, Coleman Cables, CTK, and the biggest international breweries are now located there. It is the fastest-growing industrial arena in the entire country,” he said.

Addressing the media directly, Daniel humorously added, “There’s a whole lot that you people refused to report for us.”

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Electricity subsidy gulps N629bn as Discos generate N1.1tn

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The Federal Government spent N628.61bn as subsidy on electricity in 2023, as power distribution companies collected a total revenue of N1.08tn during the same period, the latest industry data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Wednesday showed.

An analysis of figures from the power sector regulator indicated that electricity subsidies continued to increase every quarter all through last year.

It was observed that subsidies on power in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2024 were N36.02bn, N135.23bn, N204.6bn, and N252.76bn respectively.

It was also observed that during the same period, power distribution companies raked in N247.09bn, N267.86bn, N267.61bn, and N294.95bn in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2023 respectively.

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The rise in revenue by Discos prompted calls for improved services from the power firms, as consumers condemned the Discos’ inability to deliver satisfactorily.

In the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, the Federal Government undertakes to cover the resultant gap between the cost-reflective and allowed tariff in the form of tariff subsidies.

For ease of administration, the subsidy is only applied to the power generation cost payable by Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company, which is the power trader in the sector.

The transmission and administrative service costs payable by Discos to the Market Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, are recovered 100 per cent.

However, it should be noted that the power generation cost is a major component that guarantees electricity generation and supply across the country.

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Also, the share of the NBET invoice to be covered by Discos is determined by the percentage of the generation cost they can recover from the allowed tariff and set out as their Minimum Remittance Obligation in the periodic tariff orders issued by the commission.

Commenting on the amount spent on electricity subsidy in the fourth quarter of 2023 in its latest report, the NERC said, “It is important to note that due to the absence of cost-reflective tariffs across all Discos, the government incurred a subsidy obligation of ₦252.76bn in 2023/Q4.”

This represents an average of ₦84.25bn per month, which is an increase of ₦48.16bn (23.54 per cent), compared to the ₦204.6bn (average of ₦68.20bn per month) incurred in 2023/Q3.

“This increase is largely attributable to the government’s policy to harmonise exchange rates, while also directing that end-user customer tariffs remain at the December 2022 approved rates,” the commission stated.

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Explaining the subsidy spent on power in the third quarter, NERC said, “It is important to note that due to the absence of cost-reflective tariffs across all Discos, the government incurred a subsidy obligation of ₦204.59bn in 2023/Q3 (average of ₦68.20bn per month).

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“This is an increase of ₦69.37bn (51.30 per cent) compared to the ₦135.23bn (average of ₦45.08bn per month) incurred in 2023/Q2; this increase is largely attributable to the government’s policy to harmonise exchange rates.

“The rise in the government’s subsidy obligation meant that in 2023/Q3, Discos were only expected to cover 45 per cent of the total invoice received from NBET. For ease of administration of the subsidy, the MRO is limited to NBET only with the MO being allowed to recover 100 per cent of its revenue requirement from the Discos.”

“On the same subsidy issue for the second quarter of 2023, the commission stated that due to the absence of cost-reflective tariffs across all Discos, the “government incurred a subsidy obligation of ₦135.23bn in 2023/Q2.”

It added that this represents “an increase of ₦99.21bn (275 per cent) compared to the ₦36.02bn incurred in 2023/Q1. This increase is largely attributable to the government’s policy to harmonise exchange rates. On average, the subsidy obligation incurred by the government per month was ₦45.08bn in 2023/Q2.”
Discos earn N1.1tn

The data from NERC also showed how power distribution companies garnered about N1.1tn from customers across the country last year amid complaints of poor supply by end-users of electricity.

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On the collection efficiency of the Discos in the fourth quarter of 2023, the regulator said, “The total revenue collected by all Discos in 2023/Q4 was ₦294.95bn out of ₦399.69bn billed to customers.

“This translates to a collection efficiency of 73.79 per cent which represents a decrease of -2.77 basic points when compared to 2023/Q3 (76.56 per cent).”

The commission explained that over previous quarters, it observed that whenever there was an increase in energy offtake, there was usually a decrease in Discos’ billing and collection efficiencies for the same period.

“This is probably because Discos send more energy to areas where they incur more commercial losses. The inverse relationship between energy offtake by Discos and billing as well as collection efficiencies may pose challenges to the long-term growth of the NESI (Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry) unless Discos make significant progress towards improving energy accounting and addressing the major causes of losses,” it stated.

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The commission’s quarterly reports indicated that the power distribution companies raked in N247.09bn, N267.86bn, N267.61bn, and N294.95bn in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2023 respectively.
Power consumers complain

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Power consumers condemned the rise in the revenue of electricity distribution companies amid the worsening state of power supply nationwide.

The National Secretary, Nigeria Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, Uket Obonga, said the Discos made money in 2023 as a result of policies initiated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

These policies, according to Obonga, benefitted the Discos more but did not increase power supply to consumers, adding that the Discos also failed to improve their networks to serve their customers better.

“They are making money and smiling but they have not expanded their network to meet the demands of customers. What is giving them money is the Service Based Tariff that was initiated by NERC, which is questionable; another is the Performance Improvement Plan, which again is questionable.

“On SBT, you are aware that since this year, no consumer can comfortably say he or she has received up to eight hours of supply in a day. Many consumers suffered the same thing last year.

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“Now, you have over 60 per cent of unmetered customers and the Discos will bring bills to these customers whether these Discos supplied power or not to the power users. And they will still harass customers with threats of disconnection if the customers fail to pay.

“And the regulator of the sector has not done anything concrete to address this. So tell me, why won’t the Discos make money? They are making money by distributing darkness,” the NECAN secretary stated.

Obonga called for sanctions against Discos that fail to meter their customers, stressing that had it been most consumers were metered, it would be difficult for the power distributors to defraud their customers with estimated bills.

“The NERC recently revealed how the Discos overbilled their customers over a certain period and declared that the power firms would make refunds. That declaration should be enforced,” he stated.

In February, Theheute reported that Discos overbilled customers by N105bn, and were to face sanctions from NERC.

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The commission had declared that it would deduct N10,505,286,072 from the annual allowed revenues of the 11 power distribution companies during the next tariff review as part of sanctions over their non-compliance with the capping of estimated bills for unmetered customers.

NERC disclosed this in a notice obtained in Abuja, stressing that the billing of unmetered customers in their various franchise areas for 2023 revealed non-compliance with the monthly energy caps issued by the commission.

The commission explained that the Discos would pay about 10 per cent of the amount they over-billed their customers between January and September 2023.

In separate orders to the Discos, it was established that the power firms over-billed their customers to the tune of about N105bn in nine months.

Abuja Disco, for instance, overbilled its customers without meters to the tune of N17.874bn, while Eko Disco over-billed its unmetered customers by N13.137bn.

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Port Harcourt Disco overbilled its customers without meters by N14.187bn, as Kaduna Disco overbilled its customers by N1.145bn.

The regulator ordered Discos to refund the cheated customers in full and to ensure compliance in the future, stressing that to deter future occurrences, a 10 per cent fine had been imposed on the utilities.

NERC often issues orders stipulating the maximum amount that any unmetered customer is meant to pay to the distribution company that provides him or her electricity services.

The amount will continue until the customer is metered by the distribution company, according to NERC’s order to the power firms.

In the February notice, the regulator said, “The public may recall that in 2020, the commission issued the order on Capping of Estimated Bills (Order No: NERC/197/2020) and subsequently issued monthly energy caps which aimed to align the estimated bills for unmetered customers with the measured consumption of metered customers on the same supply feeder.

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“A review of the electricity distribution companies’ billing of unmetered customers for 2023 has revealed non-compliance with the monthly energy caps issued by the commission.”

In response to this and in a bid to safeguard unmetered customers from arbitrary billing by Discos, the commission stated that pursuant to Section 34(1)(d) of the Electricity Act 2023, it had issued the order on Non-Compliance with Capping of Estimated Bills (Order No: NERC/2024/004-01 4).

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Chain Reactions in 7 star performance at 2024 SABRE awards

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It was a seven-star performance for Chain Reactions Africa (CRA), one of Africa’s leading Public Relations and Integrated Communications Consultancy as it took home seven African SABRE trophies, more than any other public relations firm in Africa in the 2024 competition.

The awards which were held at the end of the annual African Public Relations Association (APRA) Conference, were presented by Provoke Media, organizers of the awards in Basam, Abidjan, Cote D’Ivore on May 16th 2024.
The work covered campaigns for the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), and its Lagos Blue Rail, 9mobile’s The Hack – Expand Your Hustle’, ‘Taming the Bull’ for the Presidency, ‘Next Era of Happiness’ for leading biscuit company, Pladis Foods Nigeria Limited.

Receiving the awards on behalf of Chain Reactions and its clients, was its Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Israel Opayemi, who noted that this is a seven-star performance by Chain Reactions Africa at the 2024 SABRE Awards.

In his comments, Opayemi said “To emerge as the highest winner at the 2024 edition of the award with seven SABRE Awards is humbling as well as exciting for us at Chain Reactions Africa. We are immensely proud to be honoured on such a global platform like the SABRE awards which is the holy grail of Public Relations globally as the awards programme is dedicated to benchmarking the best PR works across the globe.”

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He continued, “I am making a three-fold dedication of these multiple trophies to our clients who believe in us, my team members who do the brave works relentlessly and our dear country Nigeria. Ten years ago, we were at the SABRE Awards in Miami, Florida in the United States watching and applauding as winners took turns on stage. Ten years ago, we were asking for a seat at the table. Today, we are sitting in creative resplendence at the head of the table. Today, we are flying the Nigerian flag on the global stage. We are now a territory of reckoning and relevance in the global PR space.”

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It seems winning awards is just a Chain Reactions thing, chuckled Arun Sudhaman CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Provoke Media, organizers of the SABRE Awards as Opayemi rose up seven times to receive the awards. The PR consultancy also picked up four Certificates of Excellence in recognition of its work launching the Nigerian Youth Trend Report 2024 known as ‘ARAMANDA’, ‘Next Era of Happiness’, ‘Lagos Blue Rail’, ‘The Hack – Expand Your Hustle’, and ‘Taming the Bull’.

In his reaction, the President and Chairman of the Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) described the awards by Chain Reactions Africa as “a harvest of honours for Nigeria”. He thanked the Chain Reactions Africa team for their outstanding work saying, “Thank you for making us proud.”

Chain Reactions Africa has over the years won several prestigious SABRE awards and has been awarded more than 15 Certificates of Excellence. At last year’s award, the company won CEO of the Year category for the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the use of public relations to tell the story of his administration’s achievements and scooped two Certificates of Excellence in the Corporate Image category for the ‘Momentum Campaign’ for Cellulant, a flagship payment solution provider; and ‘Marketing to Consumers’ category for ‘The #NaijaHighlandah Campaign’ for William Lawson’s, Scotch Whiskey brand.

The 2024 Africa SABRE Awards shortlist included more than 120 campaigns, selected from over 500 entries in this year’s competition, which recognizes Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement. The campaigns were evaluated by a jury of industry leaders.

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